New concept: "Competition" instead of "Competition": This is how the national youth games should be more child-friendly

The National Youth Games: Actually, they should make people want to exercise and do sports.

New concept: "Competition" instead of "Competition": This is how the national youth games should be more child-friendly

The National Youth Games: Actually, they should make people want to exercise and do sports. Nevertheless, generations of schoolchildren associate the well-known competitions not only with joy, but also with frustration - for example when the competitors on the sports field sprint faster, throw better or jump. From the 2023/2024 school year, the performance of elementary school students should now be evaluated differently and less rigidly - instead of a "competition" there should only be "competition". What does that mean?

In the future, all primary schools up to the fourth grade will have to compete in athletics and swimming, and not just the first and second grades as before. Those responsible recommend the competition up to the sixth grade. With this innovation, the games should be more child-friendly from the next school year, as the committee for the federal youth games and the sports commission of the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) had already decided in 2021. In apparatus gymnastics, on the other hand, you can continue to choose between the two forms of execution from the first to the fourth grade.

But what is the difference between the competition and a competition? "The competition is standardized according to international competition rules or national provisions of the rules of the German Athletics Association. The competition is not standardized," said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, which, together with the KMK and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), is on a board of trustees of the carriers of the Federal Youth Games is.

This means that those who are among the best are no longer based on a fixed point table in Germany - as was previously the case - but on the performance of the children in a school within their year. In addition to classic disciplines such as 50-meter sprint or long jump, schools can also offer other sports tasks in competitions without the fixed point tables - such as hurdle sprints, jabbing or spin throws.

In addition, the performance of the students should no longer be recorded with the measuring tape or the stopwatch with centimeter accuracy, as the ministry spokesman explained. Instead, there will be certain zones in the long jump or throwing, for example, in which certain points will be awarded. According to the Bundesjugendspiele website, the annual games should be about moving, having fun and doing your best. "Above all, it's about fairness, respect, teamwork and social skills."

What remains is the traditional awarding of honorary, winner and participant certificates, but according to a fixed key. The top 20 percent - separated by year and gender - receive a certificate of honor, the middle 50 percent a winner's certificate and the bottom 30 percent a certificate of participation.

The Education and Science Union (GEW) sees the reform as a good start - but there is still room for improvement. According to GEW board member Anja Bensinger-Stolze, the idea of ​​competition is now more about respect, teamwork and social skills. "But you could have taken a bigger step, for example by focusing even more on the team. That you offer certain sports or help each other with certain things," Bensinger-Stolze pointed out. Also, everyone who takes part should be rewarded in some way, without the participants being compared with different certificates. It is important to inspire the children to exercise together and to enjoy sport.

The Education and Training Association (VBE) takes a similar view. Especially in elementary school age, an alternative could be useful. However, the VBE national chairman Gerhard Brand emphasized: "This must not lead to the fact that the competitive character is abolished across the board and for all children. All children should have the opportunity to decide according to their needs and abilities whether they prefer games and fun or the fight for the first place". Competing against each other is a strong performance incentive. And "it is ultimately this appeal that makes professional sport so exciting and so attractive for the spectators," said Brand.

According to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, the federal youth games for the 2023/2024 school year are to be advertised in August. They are compulsory up to the tenth grade.